Shortly before the end of the year, yet another high-profile member of the media came quietly out of the closet. Robin Roberts, co-anchor of top-rated chat show Good Morning America, followed in the footsteps of her former colleague Sam Champion in divulging that she is gay – though indirectly.
The media reported less on the item itself and more that the times, they have a-changed. More and more, gay and lesbian celebrities and media personalities are taking a far quieter route to announcing their personal status. A recent article in the New York Times noted the trend adopted by several well-known figures of mentioning a same sex partner as an aside. In Champion’s case, the news shared on GMA was his engagement to be married; the fact that he was marrying a man might almost have been missed in the congratulations. Roberts tweeted her thanks for support during a bone marrow transplant to family, friends, and her girlfriend.
Is the new quiet coming out – as a mention, a sign of acceptance by the masses, or canny PR? Perhaps it’s both. Taking this approach lends credence to the argument that this “news” shouldn’t matter. Or it could all be a matter of professional politics, knowing that it may be difficult to report on matters such as gay marriage without appearing biased. That is, if anyone noticed the personality’s news in the first place.
THE PR VERDICT: “B” (Good Show) for Robin Roberts of Good Morning America.
THE PR TAKEAWAY: When the news concerns your personal life, consider your agenda. The corporate head of Chick-Fil-A make his business vulnerable to negative press by airing his personal anti-gay views. On the other side of the coin are media personalities whose job is to report news impartially. Can this be done when you become part of the news? Yes, apparently – when a revelation is presented as being no big deal. If in doubt, make your move on a holiday weekend, when shoes tossed from the closet tend to drop with barely a sound.